Snails are small shelled creatures that are an important part of the ecosystem. They can prove to be beneficial for the soil in your backyard, considered to be a great delicacy and source of nutrition in some parts of the world and are even used extensively in the cosmetic and beauty industry. However, some species can also be dangerous and are banned from most countries. The question then arises as to what snails are legal in the US and what species are not.
The Giant African snail causes the deterioration of buildings, pulverizes crops and can even cause meningitis in people. However, despite everything, a few people need to gather, and even eat, the vile intruders. The United States Agriculture Department is working to stop them. Since June, division specialists have held onto over 1,200 live specimens of the enormous snails, otherwise called Giant African land snails. Each of the snails could be traced back to one individual in Georgia, who was illegally selling them.
The Giant African Snail is one of the most dangerous snails in the world. Its source of nutrition can come from almost 500 different kinds of plants, including peanuts, most varieties of beans, peas, cucumbers, and melons. The species also feeds upon a vast range of ornamental plants, tree bark, and even paint and stucco on houses. Thus, it can clearly wreck havoc in both rural and urban areas. Although the Giant African Snail dwells in tropical and subtropical areas, it can also thrive in the wild and also in cold areas. Moreover, it can also survive in a warmer environment, where they can also rapidly reproduce. Each snail can lay around 1,200 eggs every year.
The USDA found the snails via some inside information from social media towards the end of June. Through that information, the department captured more than 200 snails from an individual on Long Island, New York, who then led them to the seller in Georgia. The United States Department of Agriculture interrogated the seller and captured approximately 1,000 more snails in Georgia, along with one in Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York each.
Table of Contents
What Snails Are Legal In The US And Which Ones Are Not?
Snails belonging to the genus Achatina, for example, Achatina fulica or the Giant African Snail, are particularly banned for both, transport from one state to another and importation into the United States. The Giant African Snail can also prove to be a threat to both humans as well as plants. Not only is this species illegal in the US, but if found, it is safeguarded and strict action is taken against the owner (if found in the possession of someone).
Decollate snails (Rumina decollata) and oceanic snails from the family Ampullaridae, such as Pomacea canaliculata, also known as diverted apple snail, with the exception of one, cannot be imported or transported from one state to another, aside from research purposes into an APHIS reviewed research facility. One species from the family Ampullaridae, whose scientific name is Pomacea bridgesii is legal to be taken from state to another without a license. This is due to the fact that these snails are not agricultural pests, but are fundamentally algae feeders. An import grant is required for aquatic snails so as to check species and inspect shipments for contaminants that are agricultural pests. Sick snails that carry or vector human or domesticated animal infections might be imported with just a CDC license (Centers for Disease Control).
As far as snails eaten for food is concerned, it is prohibited to import live snails into the United States for human consumption. However, cooked, frozen or processed snails can be imported for this intent. The United States Department of Agriculture does not require permits or licenses for dead snails or slugs. According to the law, “biological specimens of plant pests, in preservative or dried form, may be imported without further restriction under this part, but will be subject to inspection upon arrival in the United States to confirm the nature of the material and freedom from risk of plant pest dissemination.” The containment box cannot have any plant material, soil or other plant pests in it.
Another purpose for which the USDA can legitimize the transport or export of snails from one state to another, is for the establishment of a snail farm. If a snail species comes under the category of an agricultural pest, then a plant pest permit is needed for legal interstate transport. The permit applicant must have, in a written form, State Agricultural Official unanimity before a movement permit is issued.
What Are Roman Snails?
The Roman snail (Helix pomatia), also popularly known as a burgundy snail or edible snail, is a gastropod mollusk. Not only is it very widely known, it is also the most largely distributed snail species in the world. The main reason for this species popularity is because it is used in the famous French cuisine called “Escargot.”
It is comparatively bigger than general garden snails, with a shell that is almost 1.1-1.7 inches high, and 1.1 to 1.9 inches wide. It is brown in colour, with a few darker bands and stripes, protects all the internal organs of the snail and makes up almost one-third of the total weight of the snail. The opening of the shell is large, with white edges.
Roman snails have only one lung and a muscular foot that contracts and relaxes which then helps with locomotion. The process of contraction causes the glands in the foot to produce mucus that decreases friction with the surface upon which the snail is moving, thus lowering risks of harming their skin. Another essential anatomical feature is that they have a pair of tentacles on the head, where the upper part has the eyes, and the lower part has smell sensors.
The Roman snail can be found in most regions of the center, southeast, west, east, north, and south Europe. It resides in countries like Belgium, France, Finland, Ukraine, Poland, Norway, Italy, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, Albania, Croatia, Estonia, Romania, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Russia. However, the population of this species is fairly small in central and southern Norway, Finland and Sweden. There are large snail farming industries in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, where these snails have been transported by humans.
Are Roman Snails Legal In The US?
According to the law, the United States Department of Agriculture, does not permit importing edible snails for breeding purposes. Moreover, it does not even allow transportation of these snails from one state to another. However, the USDA does allow the limited importation of some snail species through a certified license. The Roman Snail is one such type and was introduced in the United States for consumption purposes. It is typically imported via the ports of Boston and New York. The usage and consumption of these snails is restricted in metropolitan cities and the law does not allow these species to enter rural areas. Moreover, people in the snail importation business have to check with the USDA, before proceeding with anything.
Additionally, apart from the federal law, there are a few states also have laws as well that regulate the movement of any agricultural pest or edible snail into that particular state. State laws can differ from each other since each state has its own policy regarding snails as pests. Despite the fact that edible snail species and their farming has already been founded in some U.S states, It is better to check in first with the state’s agricultural officials before taking any steps concerning this business.
Where To Get Snails?
Most people ask the question Is Helix Pomatia For Sale? This snail can be a great pet for small children which is why you can find it on many certified pet stores. Make sure that the pet store has a licence or a permit which gives them the authority to sell Helix pomatia as a pet. If not, then there are high chances that the sale is illegal. Moreover, you can even find it online where a live snail can range from anywhere between $10 – $15 (if you are getting only one or two). As the amount of snails that you want to buy increases, the price also increases. Some websites even offer you the option of buying this snail in bulk (which is a good advantage for those in the snail farming business).
Snails can be a nuisance for some, while others might like enjoying Escargot in a Parisian restaurant. Whatever it may be, one cannot deny the fact that is an excellent business in the United States and all across the globe. However, since snails also fall under the category of agricultural pests, they can cause a lot of damage to the crops, and thus indirectly destroying the country’s economy and the revenue that the agriculture department generates. For this reason the United States has banned importation of certain snail species as well as their interstate transportation. However, some species like the Helix pomatia are allowed to be imported, but that too, with a permit issued by the United States Department of Agriculture and under strict rules, regulations and restrictions. Failure to abide by those laws can result in fines, prison, or sometimes even both.